A lot of things informed my list this year – I turned 30 (shriek!), then got laid off from my job, then got another job, then my relationship of over 2 years ended, then I moved to a new city, got a new apartment, then Trump was elected as our next President, oh and then all those musicians everyone loved died. And that’s just my shit, sooooooo…
Yeah, 2016 man. It’s why my list is only five albums this year. It’s not that there weren’t many, many more great albums released this year. It’s that I’m tired. I’m over it. Check please. In strange times I’ve relied more heavily this year on old emo favorites – Aimee Mann, Elliott Smith. Sufjan is never turned off. The National’s Trouble Will Find Me finally found me three years after its release when I didn’t even know I needed it most.
But these five albums also had a tremendous effect on me. They’re the five that I’ve kept coming back to over and over again throughout the year. They’ve kept me going, made me cry, made me laugh, made me get beyond excited to hear one of their tracks in the cloob, helped me be more introspective than I think I’ve ever been. Maybe some of these have done that to you too?
So here’s what’s ‘currently murking’ me. I’ve been a mess – thanks for putting up with me this year.
5. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
I was at work hiding in my cube with headphones on and the livestream of Yeezy Season 3 up and running. The Kardashians made their entrance, which was chic but also not chic, and then the crowd at Madison Square Garden cheered even louder as Kanye finally stepped up and played the first track off of his new album, “Ultralight Beam.” And then we all died.
Hope you’re feeling better Ye, stop meeting with Trump.
Favorite track: “Ultralight Beam” / “Highlights”
4. Beyoncé – Lemonade
I was sitting at home on the couch looking at Instagram when an image from Beyoncé’s account depicting her in a fur hanging out the side of a car casually slid across me screen with a link to the music video for “Formation,” which was literally released that minute. Then the Super Bowl happened the next day and, despite my thinking that not enough time had passed since her surprise self-titled, we all got that taste of Lemonade we were so, sooooo thirsty for. And I mean everyone got that taste, whether they liked it or not. So necessary this year.
Favorite track: “Sorry”
3. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
It was the worst week of 2016 for me. Although the clues from Radiohead helped a little. I was glued to Radiohead’s Reddit thread along with all the other nerds, keeping myself occupied.
Then the video for “Daydreaming” was released and I could barely get through the day.
Then it was Mother’s Day. Then A Moon Shaped Pool was released. It was gorgeous. It was Radiohead’s breakup album. How perfect.
Favorite track: “Present Tense”
2. Bon Iver – 22, A Million
I had been feeling exceedingly worse about my decision not to attend this year’s Eaux Claires Festival as it became “duh” that Bon Iver would be premiering their new album in full on Friday.
The last time I saw Justin Vernon live was in September 2013 for a Volcano Choir show at The Metro in Chicago. I was convinced that band was his new point of focus – interviews Justin gave before kind of led you to believe that the Bon Iver project was dead dead dead.
Well it wasn’t. It’s not. Holy hell. It’s entirely possible for me to cry during every single song on this album – I’ve tried it.
It’s almost enough to get me to move back to the Twin Cities – to be closer to family and friends, of course, but also closer to the music scene and culture and the people that made and continue to make this kind of music happen.
Favorite track: Sorry it just really has to be taken as a whole.
1. Frank Ocean – Blonde
“Listen, stop trying to be somebody else. Don’t try to be someone else. Be yourself and know that that’s good enough. Don’t try to be someone else. Don’t try to be like someone else. Don’t try to act like someone else, be yourself. Be secure with yourself. Rely and trust upon your own decisions. On your own beliefs.”
Favorite track: “Self Control”